Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Freeze eggs also men's fault ?

Some readers may remember that I wrote an article on egg freezing some time ago. You can read the article by following this link. In that article, I discuss how enabling egg freezing puts men at a disadvantage because it has the effect of making young women temporarily unavailable. When women are confident enough to freeze their eggs, they will leave the mating pool and reappear at an older age. In that article, I urged policymakers to approve egg-freezing, but make it easier for men to marry foreign spouses as a counterbalance.

Recently, a pal sent me this article to read (link). 

It is now time to review the concept of egg freezing.

Fortunately for policymakers, a medical anthropologist will be publishing a book that details the kind of person who will go as far as to freeze her eggs. Because the procedure is not exactly cheap, it comes as no surprise that women who undergo this procedure are high-achieving professionals. 

What comes as a surprise to me is that 91% are single or in tenuous relationships, with a significant one-third of women having no previous relationship experience. Egg freezing is, therefore, some kind of plan B. 

This leads to the anthropologist taking a potshot at men!

She blames egg freezing for this thing called the "mating gap".

  • Men are reluctant to marry high-achieving women.
  • Men are immature and not ready to start families.
  • Men are ageist. 
This blog is an apologist for men,  I am after all the BBFA Senator. 

Now, I'd like to refute each point one by one.

First of all, I admit that men are reluctant to marry high-achieving women. But you also need to note that women also despise low-achieving men. I'd like to argue that between men and women, women are actually pickier. You are free to enjoy my article on unusual pairings here.

Secondly, not all men are immature and not ready to start families. Only the men who are willing to consider a relationship with an egg freezer are immature. Maybe a women's desperation to start a family forces her to pick an unconscientious male. 

Thirdly, I think men evolved to prefer younger women, you can't socialise this away. It's ridiculous that a medical anthropologist will blame guys for rejecting older women when it's probably more likely that women will reject men with low economic resources.

Ok, now we need to see how all this new data changes my view on egg freezing.

I think egg freezing should still continue to be approved because it can generate new investment options. But we need to have a clearer view of the sorts of women who freeze their eggs - the odds of harvesting the eggs one day is very rare and it's not because of medical viability. If you can't get a relationship in your 20s, don't expect a relationship when you are older in your 40s.

Now there is also the fear that the medical industry will promote egg freezing as some kind of miracle procedure that will never solve the relationship issues. Instead of freezing eggs, it may be better to invest in some US Office RETI counters for double-digit dividends.

Finally, I hope that some people will find this an entirely ridiculous idea. 

There are men who are uneducated. 

There are men who are short.

There are men who have no money.

I don't see these guys masturbating into a Tupperware and storing it in the freezer. 

If no woman wants us, we just earn more, pick up some Thai, and try our best.

That is the BBFA way.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Personal Update

As I do not have much to write about, maybe it's time for a personal update.

a) Financial markets

As I stopped leverage aeons ago, I was unaffected by developments in the financial markets. As interest rates rose, my REITs and Business Trusts shrank, but my dividends were not hit that badly, so I can afford to hold. If I do have a worry, it's the US-based office REITs, but I'm well diversified and don't have double-digit yields this year. 

My interpretation of bank failures is that they may be a signal to the Fed to stop raising rates. As I'm not really vested in the US, my concern is about contagion to local banks. But that risk is also small.

I don't think local dividends investors will need to really be too concerned about the markets. 

Just stay calm and collect dividends this month.

b) Career

I'm ramping down my work in the law firm and focused on building my new program. I'll probably head to the office to buy everyone snacks before I go off. 

The funny thing is that I've tried going for a few interviews weeks ago and thought employers decided to give my profile a pass, but for one job offer, I seem to get into the advanced stages.  While monetising my time during the day is no longer my priority, I have decided to press on without really being vested in the outcome. 

c) New Course

 The bulk of my effort has been put here and the past 3 weeks have been exhilarating. As data can be fetched from Yahoo Finance, I'm not longer limited by the availability of Bloomberg terminals and built up 4 robo-advisors and 4 back-testing tools to optimise and review some trading ideas from various books I've been reading.

The outcome will be an investment course that teaches students how to create and tune Robo-advisors through the use of some code I've written in Jupyter notebooks. The backtests are very successful after some tuning and my all-weather portfolios can get a Sharpe ratio close to 1 in the tough period between 2018 and 2023. More interesting is that the four strategies are almost uncorrelated from each other. 

So I've basically been coding in Python and creating Power Point slides for the past 2 weeks. In time, I might do an ERM Alumni event that will preview one chapter from my new program. Some ERM Alumni are interested in a networking and makan session, so I might be talking to Dr Wealth staff to see whether this is financially feasible. 

Anyway, even if the new course may not take off immediately, I should be able to launch my personal hedge fund with a small portion of my capital in April. 

d) Hobbies and Leisure

I guess I'm lucky because I enjoy coding robo-advisors and back testers, so I have no real need to put in any work into my hobbies.

But I'm happy to say that I have watched the Dungeons and Dragons movie last night. I think the D&D brand was cursed with really bad movies in the past so my expectations were not high. The latest D&D movie was a blast that is fun for new fans but full of fan service for longtime D&D players.

There is some demand for DM work and some folks are asking me to run a game. 

I will see what I can do.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Pivoting from Wealth to Relationships

I consider myself extremely lucky, as after my last post, my old JC pals got me out to cheer me up this week. My mum has recovered, but this is a grand opportunity to review my priorities. 

Almost as if I needed another sign, I just received heartbreaking news that a secondary classmate of mine is currently in a fight against an aggressive form of cancer. 

One of the most challenging issues my generation will have to cope with is when we should pivot from emphasising our wealth towards pouting more effort into our relationships. In your 40s and 50s, wealth is a big deal as you need it to thrive in Singapore society, but you soon reach a stage where you find less need to flex your economic status but want deeper connections with loved ones because that’s the last thing that matters in the final stage of your life. The financial equivalent is when a person can begin the process of decumulation or the gradual spending down of wealth they have accumulated. 

As we think deeper, we realise that friendship is a complicated topic, because all relationships need cultivation and in earlier stages in our lives, there are more important priorities like financial security or starting a family. As a consequence, men suffer from the lack of friendships the most because we get penalised for looking vulnerable and tend to keep our weaknesses to ourselves.

When thinking about this pivot, the first question is when should we shift from thinking about wealth accumulation to the accumulation of rich personal connections? I can't help but think of confirmation signals in a trade. When creating my new course, I often have to backtest trading algorithms. One technique I employ to confirm a downtrend is to observe that a stock has been falling for the past year and also been falling for the past month. Dual signals are more robust than just one, and this can be easily put into programming code.

The general rule of thumb is if you see your parents getting older and becoming frailer or losing them entirely to old age, and you witness folks in your generation falling sick, it is time to consider a pivot. At least from what I have observed, both signals have come true many times over the past year.

The second question is how to pivot. Which relationships to cultivate? 

The book The Good Life, which contains research on the lives of volunteers, provides a very functional view of what good friendships are like. Friends are there to diminish your hardship and reduce the stress of existing in Singapore society.

This is an exquisite way to construct a filter and decide which relationships to cultivate. Which friends are there for you when you face a crisis? Which friends have a sense of humour and provide levity in hard times? If you have friends who can solve your problems and make life easier, you need to cultivate these relationships.

But note that if you agree with this utilitarian view of friendship, you should also try to be there for your friends while in a crisis. 

If you apply this idea to practice, you may conclude that the wealthy may struggle with their friends. People will always be available when there are free meals and parties. This is not a valid test. But only in times of crisis can you figure out which relationships are worth cultivating. 

[On a personal note, I’ve been grappling with building my new course and coding almost everyday. If you want to know my views on the economy, I guess you should be attending my course previews for now. ]


Saturday, March 11, 2023

A Moment of Clarity


As we get closer to the close of the first quarter of 2023, it’s been dawning on my that my work in the law firm is not going bear fruit over the short term. The life-energy exchange of time versus money will be quite low for some time as this is a career that requires a long term commitment. As a consequence of this, I began to explore a different working arrangement with the law firm for the past few weeks. In this arrangement, I will return to go full steam as a financial trainer with a new course in the works but will go to assist the firm in periods when the work gets heavy for an hourly wage. My comparative advantage is that I’m tech savvy and faster with compilation of bundles and I can still do fairly competent research.

Everything is in the air as we head into March until my mum fainted from low blood sugar last week and hurt her hips, so now I’m spending a larger bulk of my time running errands for her and buying her meals. 

While my mum will recover in about week, I can help thinking that this is a warning that such events will happen with greater frequency in the future, and I will need to shift my career goals towards more time flexibility. 

So for now, I will not renew my practice certificate this April. 

My focus will be coming with a new training programme with all my spare time, as I can do this at home. This programme will involve quite a lot of coding as I try to come up with a proper system for students to create their own robo-adviser.

My secondary focus is to take this opportunity to spend more time with my mum. I want to prioritise travel with her while she is still able to do so. 

I am definitely disappointed for striking out a second time in the legal profession, but I’m already 48 and mid-life career can produce more disastrous outcomes. I talked about this on my blog initially because I want to make it harder to pull out this second time. 

Right now nothing much has changed and I will assist and direct legal business to firm I’m working with. I have a few job interviews in progress, but I will not prioritise them for the moment. 

In spite of this disappointment, it means that I’m free to hang out on most days again, and I’m back to being an investment trainer. 

More on this future course will be coming soon, I’m only 25% done with course materials.

Hopefully, I will be able increasing the frequency of blog updates after this. 

Loyal readers can let me know what you want me to talk about next.


Friday, March 03, 2023

Spiritual influences of my approach towards FInancial Independence

Generally, I try my best to avoid discussing religion on this blog, but recently, an opposition politician and "Intelligent Vaxxer", Goh Meng Seng, shared something hilarious on social media.

The idea is that this person somehow suffers because he has attained FIRE but does have a grasp of the meaning of life. Goh Meng Seng then goes on to give a lesson on the Dharma. 

Generally, I would refrain from giving any credit to anyone on social media who claims to have a better idea of the meaning of life. If someone's meaning of life is, for example, constantly losing elections and getting POFMA'd, I will not judge what gives their life purpose. 

Instead, I want to point out in this post the spiritual influences of my version of FIRE. 

I have personally gone through many stages of spiritual evolution. When I was young, I was hunted by Christian Fundamentalists in primary school for my D&D hobby. A teacher did not like the cover of the 1st Edition D&D Player's Handbook and thought I was a Satanist. I started out with a very negative impression of religions, especially those that do a lot of preaching and proselytising. I don't alike anything that comes between me and D&D. Consequently, I became a staunch Atheist. I spent a decent amount of time being called up to the Office of Student Affairs in NUS for anti-religious troll posts. Multiple Christian groups complained about my exploits as an undergraduate. 

As I got older, I realised that Atheism itself is a position that requires faith in the idea of the non-existence of God. Subsequently, I also encountered Atheists who were unreasonable and no better than the Christian fundamentalists who oppressed me as a kid. Over time as I got older and more conservatve, I realised I could ally with Christians because they defended the same family values I hold sacred from progressive and woke forces in society, Social Justice Fundamentalism is magnitudes worse than any religious inquisition I experienced as a youth. Also, cell groups even play D&D. 

So these days, I've softened my position. 

Today I identify as a free-thinker. To me, human brains evolved with the capacity for faith because otherwise, it would be tough to live as the final outcome is always death and not everyone can figure out the meaning of life as Goh Meng Seng has done. This evolutionary adaptation of the brain is what humanity has to cope with the suffering of being alive.

Also, I have a deep respect for religion as a community. It's an excellent way for people to get together. I even tell young people to have the flexibility to convert if they really desire to find a life partner. 

Eventually, I found a trove of wisdom that can assist us in attaining Financial Independence.

In my second book, Harvesting the Fruits of Prosperity, I appropriated the concept of Nirvana to demonstrate the freedom a FIRE aspirant can attain if he can live on his dividend payouts. It becomes the close analogue of the cessation of suffering that Nirvana can grant. In my book, I consider the crossover point where dividend payouts exceed monthly expenses as the attainment of Financial Nirvana. Another snippet from my writings is shown here :

Of course, I went beyond employing Buddhist concepts to guide the FIRE aspirant. We should not forget that much progress came from the Protestant work ethic. The following snippet is taken from my second book, which channels sociologist Max Weber on why you must earn and work hard towards Financial Nirvana:

In hindsight, I would have spent more time looking at religion and philosophy to make the journey towards Financial Independence easier for readers of my works. Incorporating religious and spiritual concepts in my writing gave it much depth. It showed that deeper spiritual meaning can come from the pursuit of financial goals and can unite differences in philosophies.

I was pleasantly surprised that after publication, Christians gave feedback that they found my writing very spiritual, and millennials found it very woke. 

I guess regardless of religion, our money struggles are very much the same.